'Unbelievable toll': Tate accusers see waves of online hate as brothers sue for defamation

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Andrew Tate has been accused of sexual assault incidents spanning a decade, but it's Tate's civil lawsuit against his accusers, which publicly names them and has led to the women and their families receiving threats, that's become a growing concern among assault survivors and their advocates.

On March 11, the U.K. issued an arrest warrant for Tate and his brother Tristan in relation to incidents dating back to 2012. A Romanian appeals court ruled they couldn't be extradited until the legal proceedings for rape, trafficking and gang activity charges issued in 2022 were resolved.

But last July, the brothers filed a civil lawsuit against two women involved in the Romanian case, along with some of their outcry witnesses, for various allegations of conspiracy, defamation and false imprisonment. Screenshots and copies of the complaint spread far and wide became fodder for the already overwhelming fire of scornful messages and posts towards the women, a lawyer for one of the women says.

The influencers and much of their fan-base insist the women involved in the Romanian case are lying and the Tate brothers will be exonerated.

The accusers' lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed and to use pseudonyms in court, but the legal system moves slowly. In the meantime, Andrew Tate's following on X has grown from around 6 million in June 2023 to 9 million in March 2024.

Social media posts by fans of influencer Andrew Tate included in court documents.

Some Tate fans jumped into action again recently, re-upping their disparaging comments about one of the accusers, her lawyer said.

"It's an unbelievable toll," said Dani Pinter, legal counsel for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation who represents one of the women. "This is the reason why many – I would argue most – victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault just stay quiet."

Tate legal saga:Andrew Tate and his brother charged with human trafficking, rape in Romania

Original complaint widely shared in 'biggest example of targeted harassment', lawyer says

The Tate brothers' 2023 civil lawsuit, filed in Palm Beach County court sought $5 million in damages from a group of five people.

The complaint named two of their accusers in the Romania case, whom USA TODAY is referring to as Jane Doe and Mary Doe at the request of their lawyers. It also named an accuser's parents, who live in Florida, and a U.S. Marine. The complaint includes allegations against Jane and Mary Doe of false imprisonment, interference in business, conspiracy and emotional distress. It also alleged defamation against the parents and the Marine.

The lawsuit also paints Jane Doe as "a serial extortionist and blackmailer who preys on successful men," and it details incidents predating her time in Romania, including relationships she had with older men when she was a minor.

It argues that the women were conspiring against the Tates with lies to try to get to Andrew's money. While Jane Doe was in the process of trying to get to London, she involved the Marine and her parents, as they notified the authorities on her behalf, the complaint alleges.

British-US former professional kickboxer and controversial influencer Andrew Tate (L) and his brother Tristan Tate (R) leave after having been released from detention in Bucharest, Romania on March 12, 2024, after they appeared in a court after Romanian police detained them over UK sex offence charges. A Bucharest court on March 12 granted a request to extradite controversial influencer Andrew Tate to the UK over sex offence charges, but only after the conclusion of legal proceedings in Romania in a separate case. The Bucharest appeals court ruling "orders the execution of the warrant of arrest issued on 19 January 2024" by the Westminster Magistrates' Court, but postpones extradition "until the final resolution of the case" in Romania, which could take years. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

But any rebuttal or parsing the facts of the criminal case in Europe would happen months later in court while copies and screenshots of the civil complaint, sometimes including personally identifiable information, was shared on social media. Screenshots of the complaint were still available on X upon USA TODAY's review, shared by accounts like "Tate News" and on YouTube by conservative commentator Candace Owens.

"Around the time of the filing of the lawsuit...there's just this deluge of tweets," Pinter said. "It's the biggest example of targeted harassment I've ever seen. Like it's her name and her face just over and over and over and over and over again."

Pinter and the accusers also said the lawyer representing the Tates, Joseph McBride, tweeted a link to the unredacted filing, which included Jane Doe's passport number, date of birth and family names.

In an interview with USA TODAY, McBride said people were asking to see the lawsuit. "The publication of a publicly filed court filing? There's nothing wrong with that," he said.

Jane Doe says online harassment worse than abuse in Romania

Pinter said she started working with Jane Doe in January 2023 when the young woman was being bombarded with online messages and media requests. Those messages were exacerbated by the lawsuit being widely shared, Pinter said. Another lawyer, Jill Roth of Laffey, Bucci & Kent, joined on the case to represent Mary Doe, a woman who resides in the U.K. and is also involved in the Romanian case.

Even after the defendants were granted a pseudonym in federal court, the unredacted complaint remains online.

A court filing shared with USA TODAY showed more than 50 pages of screenshots with messages and comments to the women saying things like "you deserve to die," and "keep changing your name we will always find you."

Social media posts by fans of influencer Andrew Tate included in court documents.

Mary Doe said strangers reached out to her on the internet threatening to release sexually explicit content of her to her friends, family and colleagues if she didn't retract her statement to authorities publicly.

Pinter said one of the more egregious posts repeatedly blames Jane Doe for someone's suicide, which she called "completely fabricated."

"The abuse I witnessed and experienced while in Romania was traumatizing. But the harassment and threats I have received in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement have been even worse," said Jane Doe in a Sept. 8, 2023 filing asking for anonymity in the case. "I cannot heal and move on with my life, work, support myself, return to normalcy, until this harassment ends. Until my privacy is restored, I cannot feel peace or safety."

Pinter has reported posts to X for violating community safety policies, but many remain live today. (USA TODAY reached out to X for comment, but got an automated response saying "busy now".)

Andrew Tate's bio on X reads: "Human Trafficker because I told friends how to post on TikTok. Rapist because some girl remembered from 15 years ago once I became rich."

'Immense chilling effect on victims'

Mary Doe's lawyer wants the Tates' lawyer, McBride, to be held accountable for the lawsuit, which she called "frivolous," and a way to make otherwise false claims seem credible. In response, McBride said the opposing counsel's claims are "absolute, pure horse (expletive)."

But Roth sees these types of lawsuits as a part a broader "post-MeToo" movement, dampening women's speech.

"It has an immense chilling effect on victims," Roth said. "That's the point of filing those lawsuits. The filing of the lawsuit is to say 'I may be on trial criminally, but I'm gonna get my story told.'"

"They have a right to confront their accuser in court," McBride said.

Roth said Mary Doe has never stepped foot in the U.S. and hopes to get her dismissed on lack of jurisdiction. At the time of publication, a federal court dismissed the Marine from the case and sent the case back to county court, where the team refiled motions for dismissal and use of a pseudonym.

McBride also filed an amended complaint March 15 including Mary and Jane Doe in the defamation claims, which previously were only aimed at the parents and the Marine. McBride said he wants to depose everyone involved. But Pinter wasn't phased by the latest filing, as she plans to argue, like the last complaints, it was filed as an intimidation tool. Pinter said she would also welcome the opportunity to bring in the Tate brothers for a deposition.

As the legal saga for the Tate brothers continues, women who are suing Andrew Tate for rape allegations wish something was done sooner.

Summarized in a statement through their lawyers, they said: "We are thinking of all the women Tate has allegedly hurt since his move to Romania whose suffering might have been prevented if the authorities in the UK had acted sooner."

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach someone withthe Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. They're available 24 hours a day and provide services in multiple languages.